* Founder locked in dispute with majority owner Metro
* Metro has always said it wants to buy out Kellerhals
* Metro stake buy valued Media-Saturn at almost $10 bln
* Kellerhals critical of Media-Saturn acting CEO
* Metro shares up 2 pct
(Adds details, background)
By Emma Thomasson and Matthias Inverardi
BERLIN/DUESSELDORF, May 15 Erich Kellerhals, the
minority owner and founder of Media-Saturn Holding GmbH, has
made a new offer to buy back Europe's biggest electronics chain
from German retailer Metro AG, alongside other
investors, he was quoted as saying on Thursday.
"We have thoroughly calculated and worked everything out,"
the billionaire was quoted saying by the Sueddeutsche Zeitung
daily in an interview. "Funding is not the issue, particularly
since I have interested investors." He did not say who the
Metro, majority owner of the Media-Saturn chain, has been
fighting for years for control with Kellerhals, who still owns a
22 percent stake. The dispute escalated in recent weeks,
prompting the resignation of Media-Saturn CEO Horst Norberg.
Kellerhals, who has a personal fortune estimated at $4
billion, suggested in 2011 he wanted to buy back the chain, but
Metro has always said it wanted to buy out Kellerhals, seeking
complete control of the asset and freeing itself from any future
arguments with its co-owner.
It repeating that offer as recently as Tuesday.
Metro lifted its holding in Media-Saturn to 78 percent last
year when it bought a extra 3 percent stake from co-founder
Leopold Stiefel for about 230 million euros, valuing the whole
company, which accounts for about a third of Metro's sales, at
more than 7 billion euros ($9.6 billion).
Shares in Metro were up 2.2 percent at 0808 GMT, giving the
group - which also owns hypermarkets, wholesale and department
stores, a stock market value of 9.2 billion euros.
Metro declined on Thursday to comment on Kellerhals' plans,
while a spokesman for Metro's biggest shareholder, investment
group Haniel, said it hoped for an improvement in the
relationship between Metro and Kellerhals.
BEHIND CLOSED DOORS
Metro Chief Executive Olaf Koch was quoted on Tuesday as
saying Metro remained prepared to buy Kellerhals' stake in
Media-Saturn, but Kellerhals rejected that offer on Thursday,
adding Metro had never made him a formal approach.
Koch said he had met Kellerhals last Friday to try to clear
the air, proposing to discuss first with him future important
decisions before they are formally approved.
But Kellerhals, who blamed Koch for escalating the conflict,
looked unlikely to agree, saying he had sent the Metro board a
proposal to solve the dispute but received no response so far.
"In public, Mr Koch acts as if he is always ready to talk
and seek compromises. But behind closed doors, he does what he
wants," Kellerhals said.
He was also critical of Pieter Haas, who Metro appointed
last week as acting CEO of Media-Saturn after Norberg's
resignation, saying the unit's former chief operating officer
had quit the company last year due to a conflict.
"How can I now assume that Media-Saturn has his full loyalty
if he won't even give up his board post at Metro?" Kellerhals
said of Haas, who has been on the Metro board since 2013.
Kellerhals, 75, opened the first Media Markt store in Munich
in 1979, entering into a partnership in 1988 with the forerunner
of the Metro Group, which brought Media Markt together with its
Saturn chain and drove a global expansion.
Media-Saturn, the world's second-biggest consumer
electronics chain after Best Buy Co Inc, is battling
online competition and saw its sales fall 4 percent in its
fiscal second quarter to 4.88 billion euros, prompting Metro to
cut its full-year earnings forecast for the unit last week.
($1 = 0.7294 Euros)
(Additional reporting by Monica Raymunt in Frankfurt; Editing
by David Holmes)